Spain Religion: History and Statistics

Spain Religion: History and Statistics

Religion in Spain is characterized by the Catholic branch of Christianity’s supremacy, with significant degrees of secularisation as of 2022. The Spanish Constitution guarantees religious freedom. 56% of Spaniards identify as Catholic, 39% as non-religious, 2.8% as practicing other religions, and 2.3% did not respond.

Spain Religion: History and Statistics

According to the Pew Research Center, Spain ranks 16th out of 34 European countries in terms of religiosity.

Religion is considered by only 3% of Spaniards to be one of their three most important values, which is lower than the European average of 5%. 

In Roman times, Judaism and Christianity were introduced to the Iberian Peninsula, with the latter absorbing many components from “pagan” rituals that remained for a time even among Christianized communities.

Following the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in the eighth century, Islam was introduced. From the late 15th to the early 16th centuries, Jews and Muslims were compelled to choose between conversion and expulsion,[9][10], with the promotion of Catholic homogeneity across the area continuing a key preoccupation for both State and Church authority for the next two centuries. Associated with the Old Regime, the Catholic Church became the most contentious institution in Spain in the 19th and 20th centuries, struggling to find ways to relate to the nascent liberal society while clashing with governments seeking an acceptable delimitation of religion’s role in public affairs. Since the fall of the Francoist dictatorship, there has been a significant increase in practical secularisation.

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The 1978 Constitution eliminated Catholicism as the state religion while respecting “all Spaniards’ religious views” and enabling “appropriate collaboration” with the Catholic Church and other confessions. 

According to the Spanish Center for Sociological Research, as of January 2022, 57.6% of Spanish citizens identify as Catholics (38.7% do not practice, while 18.9% do), 2.8% as followers of other faiths (including Islam, Protestant Christianity, Buddhism, and so on), and 38.1% as atheists (13.9%), agnostics (10.6%), or non-believers (13.6%).

Spain's Religion Infographic – Afire Within

The majority of Spaniards do not attend weekly religious services regularly. According to a July 2021 study, 36% of Spaniards who identify as religious never attend mass, 20.8% attend mass only seldom, 19% attend mass a few times a year, 6.8% two or three times per month, 13.4% every Sunday and holiday, and 2.9% several times per week. According to a 2021 study, 17.3% of the overall population attends church several times a year; 9.3% attend several times a month; 14.9% go every Sunday and all holy days of obligation, and 4.3% attend several times a week. 

Even though the majority of Spaniards identify as Catholics, younger generations tend to disregard the Church’s moral doctrines on matters such as pre-marital sex, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and contraception. Parish priests fell from 24,300 in 1975 to 18,500 in 2018, with an average age of 65.5 years. Many forms of popular religiosity, on the other hand, continue to thrive, particularly in conjunction with local festivities. Several Catholic cultural customs are prevalent among the general community, including Catholic baptisms and burials, Holy Week processions, pilgrimages (such as the Way of St. James), patron saints, and several festivals.

According to a Pew Research Center survey published in 2019, 54% of Spaniards had a favorable view of Muslims, whereas 76% had a favorable view of Jews. Spain has been regarded[by whom?] as largely hostile to Protestantism,[better source needed]. With only 1% of Spaniards being Protestant, and the majority of Protestants being of immigrant origin. 

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St. James the Greater is the patron saint of Spain.

While Catholicism is the most popular religion in Spain, most Spaniards, particularly the young, prefer not to follow Catholic teachings on morals, politics, or sexuality and do not attend Mass regularly.

Irreligiosity, including agnosticism and atheism, enjoys social standing in line with the broader secularisation of Western Europe.

Cultural wars in Spain are significantly more about politics than religion, and normally religious-related themes like creationism are far too controversial to be employed in such clashes. The Catholic Church and other religions’ revivalist attempts have had little success outside of their prior spheres of influence. According to Eurobarometer 83 (2015), only 3% of Spaniards regard religion to be one of their top three values, the same as in 2008 and lower than the 5% European average. Furthermore, according to the 2005 Eurobarometer Poll: 

  • 59% of Spaniards said they “think there is a God.”
  • 21% said they “believe in some kind of spirit or life force.”
  • 18% said they “do not believe in any kind of spirit, God, or life force.”
Religion in Spain: a primarily Catholic nation | Expatica

The broad support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Spain—according to research conducted by the Centre for Sociological Research, more than 70% of Spaniards backed homosexual marriage in 2004.

Indeed, a bill allowing homosexual marriage was passed by 187 votes to 147 in June 2005, making Spain the third country in the European Union to allow same-sex couples to marry. The vote was split along conservative-liberal lines, with the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and other left-leaning parties in favor and the center-right People’s Party (PP) opposed. However, after the Popular Party was elected.

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